With a written history of nearly five thousand years, the Semitic languages
comprise one of the world’s earliest attested and longest attested
families. Well known members of the family include Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic,
Amharic, and Akkadian. This volume provides an overview of this important
language family, including both ancient and modern languages. After a brief
introduction to the history of the family and its internal classification,
subsequent chapters cover topics in phonology, morphology, syntax, and
lexicon. Each chapter describes features that are characteristic of the
Semitic language family as a whole, as well as some of the more
extraordinary developments that take place in the individual languages.
This provides both a typological overview and a description of more unique
features. The chapters contain abundant examples from numerous languages.
All the examples include morpheme by morpheme glosses, as well as
translations, which help make these examples clear and accessible even to
those not familiar with a given language. Concluding the book is a detailed
guide to further reading, which directs the reader to the most important
reference tools and secondary literature, and an up-to-date bibliography.
This brief introduction contains a rich variety of data, and covers topics
not normally found in short sketches such as this. The clarity of
presentation makes it useful not only to those in the field of Semitic
linguistics, but also to the general linguist or language enthusiast who
wishes to learn something about this important language family.